AOH :: ALCOR-6.TXT|
Subject: Email privacy case settled
The long running Alcor/email case against the County and City of Riverside,
CA was settled out of court in April of this year. The announcement was
delayed until all parties had signed off, and the check (for $30k) had
cleared the bank :-).
The Alcor Life Extension Foundation (a non-profit cryonics organization
--firstname.lastname@example.org) ran a BBS for members and prospective members from
early 1987 through January 12, 1988. On that day, the BBS computer was
removed under a warrant to take the computer (but no mention of any
contained email) in connection with the investigation into the death of
83-year-old Dora Kent. (Mrs. Kent was placed into cryonic suspension by
Alcor in December of 1987. During and following the investigation, Alcor
staff members were publicly accused by county officials of murder, theft,
and building code violations. No charges were ever filed and the
investigation was officially closed three years later.)
In December of 1988 Keith Henson filed a civil suit to force an
investigation of the apparent violations of the Electronic Communication
Privacy Act by the FBI, but the case was dismissed by the now convicted
In early 1990, just before the statute of limitations ran out, Henson and
14 others (of the roughly 50 people who had email on the system) filed a
civil action against a number of officials and the County and City of
Riverside, CA under Section 2707 of the Electronic Communication Privacy
Some time after the case was filed, the Electronic Frontier Foundation came
into existence in response to law enforcement abuses involving a wide
spectrum of the online community. EFF considered this case an important
one, and helped the plaintiffs in the case by locating pro bono legal help.
While the case was being transferred, the County and City offered a
settlement which was close to the maximum damages which could have been
obtained at trial. Although no precedent was set because the case did not
go to trial, considerable legal research has been done, and one judgment
issued in response to the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. The legal filings
and the responses they generated from the law firm representing the
County/City and officials are available by email from email@example.com or
(with delay) from firstname.lastname@example.org. (They are also posted on
The Plaintiffs were represented by Christopher Ashworth of Garfield,
Tepper, Ashworth and Epstein in Los Angeles (408-277-1981). A summary of
the settlement agreement is attached.
This agreement is made and entered into in Riverside, California,
this _____ day of ______ by and between [long list of defendants and
1. This Agreement is executed with reference to the following facts
for purpose of this Agreement only.
2. On January 12, 1998, some of the Defendants, pursuant to a search
warrant, entered into the premises of Alcor Life Extension Foundation in
3. Upon entry into the property, some of the Defendants seized various
items, including electronic media containing E-mail owned by the
4. On or about January 11, 1990, plaintiffs commenced civil action No.
SAC 90-021js in the United States District Court, Santa Ana ("the Action"),
against the defendants for injuries and damages allegedly suffered as a
result of the defendants' seizure of plaintiff's E-mail.
5 It is now the desire and intention of plaintiffs, on the one part,
and defendants on the other part, to settle, compromise, and resolve all
the differences, disagreements, and disputes, which exist and may exist,
including those which are the subject matter of, referred to, related to,
or mentioned in the Action. Pursuant to this desire, and in consideration
of the mutual promises contained herein, the parties agree as follows.
6. Upon the execution of this Agreement, defendants County of
Riverside shall pay to plaintiffs, by check, the total sum of Thirty
Thousand Dollars ($30,000), inclusive of attorney fees and cost.
7. [The rest of this is boilerplate, except that they wanted
confidentiality of the agreement, to which we would not agree.]
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